At last a day came when he did not see Gray Brother at the signal place, and he laughed and headed the buffaloes for the ravine by the dhak-tree, which was all covered with golden-red flowers. There sat Gray Brother, every bristle on his back lifted.
'He has hidden for a month to throw thee off thy guard. He crossed the ranges last night with Tabaqui, hot-foot on thy trail,' said the Wolf, panting.
Mowgli frowned. 'I am not afraid of Shere Khan, but Tabaqui is very cunning.'
'Have no fear,' said Gray Brother, licking his lips a little. 'I met Tabaqui in the dawn. Now he is telling all his wisdom to the kites, but he told me everything before I broke his back. Shere Khan's plan is to wait for thee at the village gate this evening—for thee and for no one else. He is lying up now, in the big dry ravine of the Waingunga.'
'Has he eaten to-day, or does he hunt empty?' said Mowgli, for the answer meant life and death to him.
'He killed at dawn—a pig—and he has drunk too. Remember, Shere Khan could never fast, even for the sake of revenge.'
'Oh! fool, fool! What a cub's cub it is! Eaten and drunk too, and he thinks that I shall wait till he has slept! Now, where does he lie up? If there were but ten of us we might pull him down as he lies. These buffaloes will not charge unless they wind him, and I cannot speak their language. Can we get behind his track so that they may smell it?'
'He swam far down the Waingunga to cut that off,' said Gray Brother.
'Tabaqui told him that, I know. He would never have thought of it alone.' Mowgli stood with his finger in his mouth, thinking. 'The big ravine of the Waingunga. That opens out on the plain not half a mile from here. I can take the herd round through the jungle to the head of the ravine and then sweep down—but he would slink out at the foot. We must block that end. Gray Brother, canst thou cut the herd in two for me?'
'Not I, perhaps—but I have brought a wise helper.' Gray Brother trotted off and dropped into a hole. Then there lifted up a huge gray head that Mowgli knew well, and the hot air was filled with the most desolate cry of all the jungle—the hunting-howl of a wolf at mid-day.
'Akela! Akela!' said Mowgli, clapping his hands. 'I might have known that thou wouldst not forget me. We have a big work in hand. Cut the herd in two, Akela. Keep the cows and calves together, and the bulls and the plough-buffaloes by themselves.'
The two wolves ran, ladies'-chain fashion, in and out of the herd, which snorted and threw up its head, and separated into two clumps. In one, the cow-buffaloes stood with their calves in the centre, and glared and pawed, ready, if a wolf would only stay still, to charge down and trample the life out of him. In the other, the bulls and the young bulls snorted and stamped, but though they looked more imposing they were much less dangerous, for they had no calves to protect. No six men could have divided the herd so neatly.
'What orders!' panted Akela. 'They are trying to join again.'
Mowgli slipped on to Rama's back. 'Drive the bulls away to the left, Akela. Gray Brother, when we are gone, hold the cows together, and drive them into the foot of the ravine.'
'How far?' said Gray Brother, panting and snapping.
'Till the sides are higher than Shere Khan can jump,' shouted Mowgli. 'Keep them there till we come down.' The bulls swept off as Akela bayed, and Gray Brother stopped in front of the cows. They charged down on him, and he ran just before them to the foot of the ravine, as Akela drove the bulls far to the left.
'Well done! Another charge and they are fairly started. Careful, now—careful, Akela. A snap too much, and the bulls will charge. Hujah! This is wilder work than driving black-buck. Didst thou think these creatures could move so swiftly?' Mowgli called.
'I have—have hunted these too in my time,' gasped Akela in the dust. 'Shall I turn them into the jungle?'
'Ay! Turn. Swiftly turn them! Rama is mad with rage. Oh, if I could only tell him what I need of him today.'
The bulls were turned, to the right this time, and crashed into the standing thicket. The other herd-children, watching with the cattle half a mile away, hurried to the village as fast as their legs could carry them, crying that the buffaloes had gone mad and run away. But Mowgli's plan was simple enough. All he wanted to do was to make a big circle uphill and get at the head of the ravine, and then take the bulls down it and catch Shere Khan between the bulls and the cows; for he knew that after a meal and a full drink Shere Khan would not be in any condition to fight or to clamber up the sides of the ravine. He was soothing the buffaloes now by voice, and Akela had dropped far to the rear, only whimpering once or twice to hurry the rear-guard. It was a long, long circle, for they did not wish to get too near the ravine and give Shere Khan warning. At last Mowgli rounded up the bewildered herd at the head of the ravine on a grassy patch that sloped steeply down to the ravine itself. From that height you could see across the tops of the trees down to the plain below; but what Mowgli looked at was the sides of the ravine, and he saw with a great deal of satisfaction that they ran nearly straight up and down, while the vines and creepers that hung over them would give no foothold to a tiger who wanted to get out.
'Let them breathe, Akela,' he said, holding up his hand. 'They have not winded him yet. I must tell Shere Khan who comes. We have him in a trap.'
He put his hands to his mouth and shouted down the ravine,—it was almost like shouting down a tunnel,—and the echoes jumped from rock to rock.
After a long time there came back the drawling, sleepy snarl of a full-fed tiger just wakened.
'Who calls?' said Shere Khan, and a splendid peacock fluttered up out of the ravine screeching.
'I, Mowgli. Cattle thief, it is time to come to the Council Rock! Down—hurry them down, Akela! Down, Rama, down!'
The herd paused for an instant at the edge of the slope, but Akela gave tongue in the full hunting yell, and they pitched over one after the other just as steamers shoot rapids, the sand and stones spurting up round them. Once started, there was no chance of stopping, and before they were fairly in the bed of the ravine Rama winded Shere Khan and bellowed.
'Ha! Ha!' said Mowgli, on his back. 'Now thou knowest!' and the torrent of black horns, foaming muzzles, and staring eyes whirled down the ravine just as boulders go down in flood-time; the weaker buffaloes being shouldered out to the sides of the ravine where they tore through the creepers. They knew what the business was before them—the terrible charge of the buffalo herd against which no tiger can hope to stand. Shere Khan heard the thunder of their hoofs, picked himself up and lumbered down the ravine, looking from side to side for some way of escape, but the walls of the ravine were straight and he had to hold on, heavy with his dinner and drink, willing to do anything rather than fight. The herd splashed through the pool he had just left, bellowing till the narrow cut rang. Mowgli heard an answering bellow from the foot of the ravine, saw Shere Khan turn (the tiger knew if the worst came to the worst it was better to meet the bulls than the cows with their calves), and then Rama tripped, and stumbled, and went on again over something soft, and, with the bulls at his heels, crashed full into the other herd, while the weaker buffaloes were lifted clean off their feet by the shock of the meeting. That charge carried both herds out into the plain, goring and stamping and snorting. Mowgli watched his time, and slipped off Rama's neck, laying about right and left with his stick.
'Quick, Akela! Break them up. Scatter them, or they will be fighting one another. Drive them away, Akela. Hai, Rama! Hai! hai! hai! my children. Softly now, softly! It is all over.'
Akela and Gray Brother ran to and fro nipping the buffaloes' legs, and though the herd wheeled once to charge up the ravine again, Mowgli managed to turn Rama, and the others followed him to the wallows.
Shere Khan needed no more trampling. He was dead, and the kites were coming for him already.
'Brothers, that was a dog's death,' said Mowgli, feeling for the knife he always carried in a sheath round his neck now that he lived with men. 'But he would never have shown fight. Wallah! his hide will look well on the Council Rock. We must get to work swiftly.'
A boy trained among men would never have dreamed of skinning a ten-foot tiger alone, but Mowgli knew better than any one else how an animal's skin is fitted on, and how it can be taken off. But it was hard work, and Mowgli slashed and tore and grunted for an hour, while the wolves lolled out their tongues, or came forward and tugged as he ordered them. Presently a hand fell on his shoulder, and looking up he saw Buldeo with the Tower musket. The children had told the village about the buffalo stampede, and Buldeo went out angrily, only too anxious to correct Mowgli for not taking better care of the herd. The wolves dropped out of sight as soon as they saw the man coming.
'What is this folly? said Buldeo, angrily. 'To think that thou canst skin a tiger! Where did the buffaloes kill him? It is the Lame Tiger, too, and there is a hundred rupees on his head. Well, well, we will overlook thy letting the herd run off, and perhaps I will give thee one of the rupees of the reward when I have taken the skin to Khanhiwara. He fumbled in his waist-cloth for flint and steel, and stooped down to singe Shere Khan's whiskers. Most native hunters always singe a tiger's whiskers to prevent his ghost from haunting them.
'Hum!' said Mowgli, half to himself as he ripped back the skin of a forepaw. 'So thou wilt take the hide to Khanhiwara for the reward, and perhaps give me one rupee? Now it is in my mind that I need the skin for my own use. Heh! old man, take away that fire!'
'What talk is this to the chief hunter of the village? Thy luck and the stupidity of thy buffaloes have helped thee to this kill. The tiger has just fed, or he would have gone twenty miles by this time. Thou canst not even skin him properly, little beggar brat, and forsooth I, Buldeo, must be told not to singe his whiskers. Mowgli, I will not give thee one anna of the reward, but only a very big beating. Leave the carcass!'
'By the Bull that bought me,' said Mowgli, who was trying to get at the shoulder, 'must I stay babbling to an old ape all noon? Here, Akela, this man plagues me.'
Buldeo, who was still stooping over Shere Khan's head, found himself sprawling on the grass, with a gray wolf standing over him, while Mowgli went on skinning as though he were alone in all India.
'Ye-es,' he said, between his teeth. 'Thou art altogether right, Buldeo. Thou wilt never give me one anna of the reward. There is an old war between this lame tiger and myself—a very old war, and—I have won.'
To do Buldeo justice, if he had been ten years younger he would have taken his chance with Akela had he met the wolf in the woods, but a wolf who obeyed the orders of this boy who had private wars with man-eating tigers was not a common animal. It was sorcery, magic of the worst kind, thought Buldeo, and he wondered whether the amulet round his neck would protect him. He lay as still as still, expecting every minute to see Mowgli turn into a tiger, too.
'Maharaj! Great King,' he said at last, in a husky whisper.
'Yes,' said Mowgli, without turning his head, chuckling a little.
'I am an old man. I did not know that thou wast anything more than a herdsboy. May I rise up and go away, or will thy servant tear me to pieces?'
'Go, and peace go with thee. Only, another time do not meddle with my game. Let him go, Akela.'
Buldeo hobbled away to the village as fast as he could, looking back over his shoulder in case Mowgli should change into something terrible. When he got to the village he told a tale of magic and enchantment and sorcery that made the priest look very grave.
Mowgli went on with his work, but it was nearly twilight before he and the wolves had drawn the great gray skin clear of the body.
'Now we must hide this and take the buffaloes home! Help me to herd them, Akela.'
The herd rounded up in the misty twilight, and when they got near the village Mowgli saw lights, and heard the conches and bells in the temple blowing and banging. Half the village seemed to be waiting for him by the gate. 'That is because I have killed Shere Khan,' he said to himself; but a shower of stones whistled about his ears, and the villagers shouted: 'Sorcerer! Wolfs brat! Jungle-demon! Go away! Get hence quickly, or the priest will turn thee into a wolf again. Shoot, Buldeo, shoot!'
The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.
'More sorcery!' shouted the villagers. 'He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo.'
'Now what is this?' said. Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.
'They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine,' said Akela, sitting down composedly. 'It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out.'
'Wolf! Wolf's cub! Go away!' shouted the priest, waving a sprig of the sacred tulsi plant.
'Again? Last time it was because I was a man. This time it is because I am a wolf. Let us go, Akela.'
A woman—it was Messua—ran across to the herd, and cried: 'Oh, my son, my son! They say thou art a sorcerer who can turn himself into a beast at will. I do not believe, but go away or they will kill thee. Buldeo says thou art a wizard, but I know thou hast avenged Nathoo's death.'
'Come back, Messua!' shouted the crowd. 'Come back, or we will stone thee.'
Mowgli laughed a little short ugly laugh, for a stone had hit him in the mouth. 'Run back, Messua. This is one of the foolish tales they tell under the big tree at dusk. I have at least paid for thy son's life. Farewell; and run quickly, for I shall send the herd in more swiftly than their brickbats. I am no wizard, Messua. Farewell!'
'Now, once more, Akela,' he cried. 'Bring the herd in.'
The buffaloes were anxious enough to get to the village. They hardly needed Akela's yell, but charged through the gate like a whirlwind, scattering the crowd right and left.
'Keep count!' shouted Mowgli, scornfully. 'It may be that I have stolen one of them. Keep count, for I will do your herding no more. Fare you well, children of men, and thank Messua that I do not come in with my wolves and hunt you up and down your street.'
He turned on his heel and walked away with the Lone Wolf; and as he looked up at the stars he felt happy. 'No more sleeping in traps for me, Akela. Let us get Shere Khan's skin and go away. No; we will not hurt the village, for Messua was kind to me.'
When the moon rose over the plain, making it look all milky, the horrified villagers saw Mowgli, with two wolves at his heels and a bundle on his head, trotting across at the steady wolf's trot that eats up the long miles like fire. Then they banged the temple bells and blew the conches louder than ever; and Messua cried, and Buldeo embroidered the story of his adventures in the jungle, till he ended by saying that Akela stood up on his hind legs and talked like a man.
The moon was just going down when Mowgli and the two wolves came to the hill of the Council Rock, and they stopped at Mother Wolf's cave.
'They have cast me out from the man Pack, Mother,' shouted Mowgli, 'but I come with the hide of Shere Khan to keep my word.' Mother Wolf walked stiffly from the cave with the cubs behind her, and her eyes glowed as she saw the skin.
'I told him on that day, when he crammed his head and shoulders into this cave, hunting for thy life, little frog—I told him that the hunter would be the hunted. It is well done.'
'Little Brother, it is well done,' said a deep voice in the thicket. 'We were lonely in the jungle without thee,' and Bagheera came running to Mowgli's bare feet. They clambered up the Council Rock together, and Mowgli spread the skin out on the flat stone where Akela used to sit, and pegged it down with four slivers of bamboo, and Akela lay down upon it, and called the old call to the Council, 'Look, look well, O Wolves,' exactly as he had called when Mowgli was first brought there.
Ever since Akela had been deposed, the Pack had been without a leader, hunting and fighting at their own pleasure. But they answered the call from habit; and some of them were lame from the traps they had fallen into, and some limped from shot-wounds, and some were mangy from eating bad food, and many were missing; but they came to the Council Rock, all that were left of them, and saw Shere Khan's striped hide on the rock, and the huge claws dangling at the end of the empty dangling feet.
'Look well, O Wolves. Have I kept my word?' said Mowgli; and the wolves bayed Yes, and one tattered wolf howled:—
'Lead us again, O Akela. Lead us again, O man-cub, for we be sick of this lawlessness, and we would be the Free People once more.'
'Nay,' purred Bagheera, 'that may not be. When ye are full fed, the madness may come upon you again. Not for nothing are ye called the Free People. Ye fought for freedom, and it is yours. Eat it, O Wolves.'
'Man-Pack and Wolf-Pack have cast me out,' said Mowgli. 'Now I will hunt alone in the jungle.'
'And we will hunt with thee,' said the four cubs.
So Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the jungle from that day on. But he was not always alone, because, years afterward, he became a man and married.
But that is a story for grown-ups.
THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE DANCED ON SHERE KHAN'S HIDE.
The Song of Mowgli—I, Mowgli am singing. Let the jungle listen to the things I have done. Shere Khan said he would kill—would kill! At the gates in the twilight he would kill Mowgli, the Frog! He ate and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for when wilt thou drink again? Sleep and dream of the kill. I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brother come to me! Come to me, Lone Wolf, for there is big game afoot! Bring up the great bull-buffaloes, the blue-skinned herd-bulls with the angry eyes. Drive them to and fro as I order. Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan? Wake, O wake! Here come I, and the bulls are behind. Rama the king of the buffaloes stamped with his foot. Waters of the Waingunga whither went Shere Khan? He is not Sahi to dig holes, nor Mor, the Peacock, that he should fly. He is not Mang, the Bat, to hang in the branches. Little bamboos that creak together tell me where he ran? Ow! he is there. Ahoo! he is there. Under the feet of Rama lies the Lame One! Up, Shere Khan! Up and kill! Here is meat; break the necks of the bulls. Hsh! he is asleep. We will not wake him, for his strength is very great. The kites have come down to see it. The black ants have come up to know it. There is a great assembly in his honour. Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will see that I am naked. I am ashamed to meet all these people. Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend me thy gay striped coat that I may go to the Council Rock. By the Bull that bought me I made a promise—a little promise. Only thy coat is lacking before I keep my word. With the knife, with the knife that men use, with the knife of the hunter, I will stoop down for my gift. Waters of the Waingunga, Shere Khan gives me his coat for the love that he bears me. Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is the hide of Shere Khan. The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk child's talk. My mouth is bleeding. Let me run away. Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly with me, my brothers. We will leave the lights of the village and go to the low moon. Waters of the Waingunga, the Man Pack have cast me out. I did them no harm, but they were afraid of me. Why? Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out too. The Jungle is shut to me and the village gates are shut. Why? As Mang flies between the beasts and birds so fly I between the village and the Jungle. Why? I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is very heavy. My mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from the village, but my heart is very light, because I have come back to the Jungle. Why? These two things fight together in me as the snakes fight in the spring. The water comes out of my eyes; yet I laugh while it falls. Why? I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under my feet. All the Jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan. Look, look well, O Wolves! Ahae! my heart is heavy with the things that I do not understand.
The World hath set its heavy yoke Upon the old white-bearded folk Who strive to please the King. God's mercy is upon the young, God's wisdom in the baby tongue That fears not anything. The Parable of Chajju Bhagat.
Now Tods' Mamma was a singularly charming woman, and every one in Simla knew Tods. Most men had saved him from death on occasions. He was beyond his ayah's control altogether, and perilled his life daily to find out what would happen if you pulled a Mountain Battery mule's tail. He was an utterly fearless young Pagan, about six years old, and the only baby who ever broke the holy calm of the Supreme Legislative Council.
It happened this way: Tods' pet kid got loose, and fled up the hill, off the Boileaugunge Road, Tods after it, until it burst in to the Viceregal Lodge lawn, then attached to 'Peterhoff.' The Council were sitting at the time, and the windows were open because it was warm. The Red Lancer in the porch told Tods to go away; but Tods knew the Red Lancer and most of the Members of Council personally. Moreover, he had firm hold of the kid's collar, and was being dragged all across the flower-beds. 'Give my salaam to the long Councillor Sahib, and ask him to help me take Moti back!' gasped Tods. The Council heard the noise through the open windows; and, after an interval, was seen the shocking spectacle of a Legal Member and a Lieutenant-Governor helping, under the direct patronage of a Commander-in-Chief and a Viceroy, one small and very dirty boy, in a sailor's suit and a tangle of brown hair, to coerce a lively and rebellious kid. They headed it off down the path to the Mall, and Tods went home in triumph and told his Mamma that all the Councillor Sahibs had been helping him to catch Moti. Whereat his Mamma smacked Tods for interfering with the administration of the Empire; but Tods met the Legal Member the next day, and told him in confidence that if the Legal Member ever wanted to catch a goat, he, Tods, would give him all the help in his power. 'Thank you, Tods,' said the Legal Member.
Tods was the idol of some eighty jhampanis, and half as many saises. He saluted them all as 'O Brother.' It never entered his head that any living human being could disobey his orders; and he was the buffer between the servants and his Mamma's wrath. The working of that household turned on Tods, who was adored by every one from the dhoby to the dog-boy. Even Futteh Khan, the villainous loafer khit from Mussoorie, shirked risking Tods' displeasure for fear his co-mates should look down on him.
So Tods had honour in the land from Boileaugunge to Chota Simla, and ruled justly according to his lights. Of course, he spoke Urdu, but he had also mastered many queer side-speeches like the chotee bolee of the women, and held grave converse with shopkeepers and Hill-coolies alike. He was precocious for his age, and his mixing with natives had taught him some of the more bitter truths of life: the meanness and the sordidness of it. He used, over his bread and milk, to deliver solemn and serious aphorisms, translated from the vernacular into the English, that made his Mamma jump and vow that Tods must go Home next hot weather. Just when Tods was in the bloom of his power, the Supreme Legislature were hacking out a Bill for the Sub-Montane Tracts, a revision of the then Act, smaller than the Punjab Land Bill, but affecting a few hundred thousand people none the less. The Legal Member had built, and bolstered, and embroidered, and amended that Bill till it looked beautiful on paper. Then the Council began to settle what they called the 'minor details.' As if any Englishman legislating for natives knows enough to know which are the minor and which are the major points, from the native point of view, of any measure! That Bill was a triumph of 'safe-guarding the interests of the tenant.' One clause provided that land should not be leased on longer terms than five years at a stretch; because, if the landlord had a tenant bound down for, say, twenty years, he would squeeze the very life out of him. The notion was to keep up a stream of independent cultivators in the Sub-Montane Tracts; and ethnologically and politically the notion was correct. The only drawback was that it was altogether wrong. A native's life in India implies the life of his son. Wherefore, you cannot legislate for one generation at a time. You must consider the next from the native point of view. Curiously enough, the native now and then, and in Northern India more particularly, hates being over-protected against himself. There was a Naga Village once, where they lived on dead and buried Commissariat mules.... But that is another story.
For many reasons, to be explained later, the people concerned objected to the Bill. The Native Member in Council knew as much about Punjabis as he knew about Charing Cross. He had said in Calcutta that 'the Bill was entirely in accord with the desires of that large and important class, the cultivators'; and so on, and so on. The Legal Member's knowledge of natives was limited to English-speaking Durbaris, and his own red chaprassis, the Sub-Montane Tracts concerned no one in particular, the Deputy Commissioners were a good deal too driven to make representations, and the measure was one which dealt with small land-holders only. Nevertheless, the Legal Member prayed that it might be correct, for he was a nervously conscientious man. He did not know that no man can tell what natives think unless he mixes with them with the varnish off. And not always then. But he did the best he knew. And the measure came up to the Supreme Council for the final touches, while Tods patrolled the Burra Simla Bazar in his morning rides, and played with the monkey belonging to Ditta Mull, the bunnia, and listened, as a child listens, to all the stray talk about this new freak of the Lord Sahib's.
One day there was a dinner-party at the house of Tods' Mamma, and the Legal Member came. Tods was in bed, but he kept awake till he heard the bursts of laughter from the men over the coffee. Then he paddled out in his little red flannel dressing-gown and his night-suit, and took refuge by the side of his father, knowing that he would not be sent back. 'See the miseries of having a family!' said Tods' father, giving Tods three prunes, some water in a glass that had been used for claret, and telling him to sit still. Tods sucked the prunes slowly, knowing that he would have to go when they were finished, and sipped the pink water like a man of the world, as he listened to the conversation. Presently, the Legal Member, talking 'shop' to the Head of a Department, mentioned his Bill by its full name—'The Sub-Montane Tracts Ryotwary Revised Enactment.' Tods caught the one native word, and lifting up his small voice said—
'Oh, I know all about that! Has it been murramutted yet, Councillor Sahib?'
'How much?' said the Legal Member. 'Murramutted—mended.—Put theek, you know—made nice to please Ditta Mull!'
The Legal Member left his place and moved up next to Tods.
'What do you know about ryotwari, little man?' he said.
'I'm not a little man, I'm Tods, and I know all about it. Ditta Mull, and Choga Lall, and Amir Nath, and—oh, lakhs of my friends tell me about it in the bazars when I talk to them.'
'Oh, they do—do they? What do they say, Tods?'
Tods tucked his feet under his red flannel dressing-gown and said—'I must fink.'
The Legal Member waited patiently. Then Tods, with infinite compassion—
'You don't speak my talk, do you, Councillor Sahib?'
'No; I am sorry to say I do not,' said the Legal Member.
'Very well,' said Tods, 'I must fink in English.'
He spent a minute putting his ideas in order, and began very slowly, translating in his mind from the vernacular to English, as many Anglo-Indian children do. You must remember that the Legal Member helped him on by questions when he halted, for Tods was not equal to the sustained flight of oratory that follows.
'Ditta Mull says, "This thing is the talk of a child, and was made up by fools." But I don't think you are a fool, Councillor Sahib,' said Tods hastily. 'You caught my goat. This is what Ditta Mull says—'I am not a fool, and why should the Sirkar say I am a child? I can see if the land is good and if the landlord is good. If I am a fool, the sin is upon my own head. For five years I take my ground for which I have saved money, and a wife I take too, and a little son is born." Ditta Mull has one daughter now, but he says he will have a son soon. And he says, "At the end of five years, by this new bundobust, I must go. If I do not go, I must get fresh seals and takkus-stamps on the papers, perhaps in the middle of the harvest, and to go to the law-courts once is wisdom, but to go twice is Jehannum." 'That is quite true,' explained Tods gravely. 'All my friends say so. And Ditta Mull says, "Always fresh takkus and paying money to vakils and chaprassis and law-courts every five years, or else the landlord makes me go. Why do I want to go? Am I a fool? If I am a fool and do not know, after forty years, good land when I see it, let me die! But if the new bundobust says for fifteen years, that is good and wise. My little son is a man, and I am burnt, and he takes the ground or another ground, paying only once for the takkus-stamps on the papers, and his little son is born, and at the end of fifteen years is a man too. But what profit is there in five years and fresh papers? Nothing but dikh, trouble, dikh. We are not young men who take these lands, but old ones—not farmers, but tradesmen with a little money—and for fifteen years we shall have peace. Nor are we children that the Sirkar should treat us so."'
Here Tods stopped short, for the whole table were listening. The Legal Member said to Tods, 'Is that all?'
'All I can remember,' said Tods. 'But you should see Ditta Mull's big monkey. It's just like a Councillor Sahib.'
'Tods! Go to bed!' said his father.
Tods gathered up his dressing-gown tail and departed. The Legal Member brought his hand down on the table with a crash—'By Jove!' said the Legal Member, 'I believe the boy is right. The short tenure is the weak point.'
He left early, thinking over what Tods had said. Now, it was obviously impossible for the Legal Member to play with a bunnia's monkey, by way of getting understanding; but he did better. He made inquiries, always bearing in mind the fact that the real native—not the hybrid, University-trained mule—is as timid as a colt, and little by little, he coaxed some of the men whom the measure concerned most intimately to give in their views, which squared very closely with Tods' evidence.
So the Bill was amended in that clause; and the Legal Member was filled with an uneasy suspicion that Native Members represent very little except the Orders they carry on their bosoms. But he put the thought from him as illiberal. He was a most liberal man.
After a time the news spread through the bazars that Tods had got the Bill recast in the tenure-clause, and, if Tods' Mamma had not interfered, Tods would have made himself sick on the baskets of fruit and pistachio nuts and Cabuli grapes and almonds that crowded the verandah. Till he went Home, Tods ranked some few degrees before the Viceroy in popular estimation. But for the little life of him Tods could not understand why.
In the Legal Member's private-paper-box still lies the rough draft of the Sub-Montane Tracts Ryotwary Revised Enactment; and opposite the twenty-second clause, pencilled in blue chalk, and signed by the Legal Member are the words 'Tods' Amendment.'
THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD DIN
Who is the happy man? He that sees in his own house, at home, little children crowned with dust, leaping and falling and crying.—
Munichandra, translated by Professor Peterson.
The polo-ball was an old one, scarred, chipped, and dinted. It stood on the mantelpiece among the pipe-stems which Imam Din, khitmatgar, was cleaning for me.
'Does the Heaven-born want this ball?' said Imam Din deferentially.
The Heaven-born set no particular store by it; but of what use was a polo-ball to a khitmatgar?
'By Your Honour's favour, I have a little son. He has seen this ball, and desires it to play with, I do not want it for myself.'
No one would for an instant accuse portly old Imam Din of wanting to play with polo-balls. He carried out the battered thing into the verandah; and there followed a hurricane of joyful squeaks, a patter of small feet, and the thud-thud-thud of the ball rolling along the ground. Evidently the little son had been waiting outside the door to secure his treasure. But how had he managed to see that polo-ball?
Next day, coming back from office half an hour earlier than usual, I was aware of a small figure in the dining-room—a tiny, plump figure in a ridiculously inadequate shirt which came, perhaps, halfway down the tubby stomach. It wandered round the room, thumb in mouth, crooning to itself as it took stock of the pictures. Undoubtedly this was the 'little son.'
He had no business in my room, of course; but was so deeply absorbed in his discoveries that he never noticed me in the doorway. I stepped into the room and startled him nearly into a fit. He sat down on the ground with a gasp. His eyes opened, and his mouth followed suit. I knew what was coming, and fled, followed by a long, dry howl which reached the servants' quarters far more quickly than any command of mine had ever done. In ten seconds Imam Din was in the dining-room. Then despairing sobs arose, and I returned to find Imam Din admonishing the small sinner who was using most of his shirt as a handkerchief.
'This boy,' said Imam Din judicially, 'is a budmash—a big budmash. He will, without doubt, go to the jail-khana, for his behaviour.' Renewed yells from the penitent, and an elaborate apology to myself from Imam Din.
Tell the baby,' said I, 'that the Sahib is not angry, and take him away.' Imam Din conveyed my forgiveness to the offender, who had now gathered all his shirt round his neck, stringwise, and the yell subsided into a sob. The two set off for the door. 'His name,' said Imam Din, as though the name were part of the crime, 'is Muhammad Din, and he is a budmash.' Freed from present danger, Muhammad Din turned round in his father's arms, and said gravely, 'It is true that my name is Muhammad Din, Tahib, but I am not a budmash. I am a man!'
From that day dated my acquaintance with Muhammad Din. Never again did he come into my dining-room, but on the neutral ground of the garden we greeted each other with much state, though our conversation was confined to 'Talaam, Tahib' from his side, and 'Salaam, Muhammad Din' from mine. Daily on my return from office, the little white shirt and the fat little body used to rise from the shade of the creeper-covered trellis where they had been hid; and daily I checked my horse here, that my salutation might not be slurred over or given unseemly.
Muhammad Din never had any companions. He used to trot about the compound, in and out of the castor-oil bushes, on mysterious errands of his own. One day I stumbled upon some of his handiwork far down the grounds. He had half buried the polo-ball in dust, and stuck six shrivelled old marigold flowers in a circle round it. Outside that circle again was a rude square, traced out in bits of red brick alternating with fragments of broken china; the whole bounded by a little bank of dust. The water-man from the well-curb put in a plea for the small architect, saying that it was only the play of a baby and did not much disfigure my garden.
Heaven knows that I had no intention of touching the child's work then or later; but, that evening, a stroll through the garden brought me unawares full on it; so that I trampled, before I knew, marigold-heads, dust-bank, and fragments of broken soap dish into confusion past all hope of mending. Next morning, I came upon Muhammad Din crying softly to himself over the ruin I had wrought. Some one had cruelly told him that the Sahib was very angry with him for spoiling the garden, and had scattered his rubbish, using bad language the while. Muhammad Din laboured for an hour at effacing every trace of the dust bank and pottery fragments, and it was with a tearful and apologetic face that he said, 'Talaam, Tahib,' when I came home from office. A hasty inquiry resulted in Imam Din informing Muhammad Din that, by my singular favour, he was permitted to disport himself as he pleased. Whereat the child took heart and fell to tracing the ground-plan of an edifice which was to eclipse the marigold-polo-ball creation.
For some months the chubby little eccentricity revolved in his humble orbit among the castor-oil bushes and in the dust; always fashioning magnificent palaces from stale flowers thrown away by the bearer, smooth water-worn pebbles, bits of broken glass, and feathers pulled, I fancy, from my fowls—always alone, and always crooning to himself.
A gaily-spotted sea-shell was dropped one day close to the last of his little buildings; and I looked that Muhammad Din should build something more than ordinarily splendid on the strength of it. Nor was I disappointed He meditated for the better part of an hour, and his crooning rose to a jubilant song. Then he began tracing in the dust. It would certainly be a wondrous palace, this one, for it was two yards long and a yard broad in ground-plan. But the palace was never completed.
Next day there was no Muhammad Din at the head of the carriage-drive, and no 'Talaam, Tahib' to welcome my return. I had grown accustomed to the greeting, and its omission troubled me. Next day Imam Din told me that the child was suffering slightly from fever and needed quinine. He got the medicine, and an English Doctor.
'They have no stamina, these brats,' said the Doctor, as he left Imam Din's quarters.
A week later, though I would have given much to have avoided it, I met on the road to the Mussulman burying-ground Imam Din, accompanied by one other friend, carrying in his arms, wrapped in a white cloth, all that was left of little Muhammad Din.
THE FINANCES OF THE GODS
The evening meal was ended in Dhunni Bhagat's Chubara, and the old priests were smoking or counting their beads. A little naked child pattered in, with its mouth wide open, a handful of marigold flowers in one hand, and a lump of conserved tobacco in the other. It tried to kneel and make obeisance to Gobind, but it was so fat that it fell forward on its shaven head, and rolled on its side, kicking and gasping, while the marigolds tumbled one way and the tobacco the other. Gobind laughed, set it up again, and blessed the marigold flowers as he received the tobacco.
'From my father,' said the child. 'He has the fever, and cannot come. Wilt thou pray for him, father?'
'Surely, littlest; but the smoke is on the ground, and the night-chill is in the air, and it is not good to go abroad naked in the autumn.'
'I have no clothes,' said the child, 'and all to-day I have been carrying cow-dung cakes to the bazar. It was very hot, and I am very tired.' It shivered a little, for the twilight was cool.
Gobind lifted an arm under his vast tattered quilt of many colours, and made an inviting little nest by his side. The child crept in, and Gobind filled his brass-studded leather waterpipe with the new tobacco. When I came to the Chubara the shaven head with the tuft atop, and the beady black eyes looked out of the folds of the quilt as a squirrel looks out from his nest, and Gobind was smiling while the child played with his beard.
I would have said something friendly, but remembered in time that if the child fell ill afterwards I should be credited with the Evil Eye, and that is a horrible possession. 'Sit thou still, Thumbling,' I said, as it made to get up and run away. 'Where is thy slate, and why has the teacher let such an evil character loose on the streets when there are no police to protect us weaklings? In which ward dost thou try to break thy neck with flying kites from the house-top?'
'Nay, Sahib, nay,' said the child, burrowing its face into Gobind's beard, and twisting uneasily. 'There was a holiday to-day among the schools, and I do not always fly kites. I play ker-li-kit like the rest.'
Cricket is the national game among the school-boys of the Punjab, from the naked hedge-school children, who use an old kerosine-tin for wicket, to the B.A.'s of the University, who compete for the Championship belt.
'Thou play kerlikit! Thou art half the weight of the bat!' I said.
The child nodded resolutely. 'Yea, I do play. Perlay-ball. Ow-at! Ran, ran, ran! I know it all.'
'But thou must not forget with all this to pray to the Gods according to custom,' said Gobind, who did not altogether approve of cricket and Western innovations.
'I do not forget,' said the child in a hushed voice.
'Also to give reverence to thy teacher, and'—
Gobind's voice softened—'to abstain from pulling holy men by the beard, little badling. Eh, eh, eh?'
The child's face was altogether hidden in the great white beard, and it began to whimper till Gobind soothed it as children are soothed all the world over, with the promise of a story.
'I did not think to frighten thee, senseless little one. Look up! Am I angry? Are, are, are! Shall I weep too, and of our tears make a great pond and drown us both, and then thy father will never get well, lacking thee to pull his beard? Peace, peace, and I will tell thee of the Gods. Thou hast heard many tales?'
'Very many, father.'
'Now, this is a new one, which thou hast not heard. Long and long ago when the Gods walked with men, as they do to-day, but that we have not faith to see, Shiv, the greatest of Gods, and Parbati his wife, were walking in the garden of a temple.'
'Which temple? That in the Nandgaon ward?' said the child.
'Nay, very far away. Maybe at Trimbak or Hurdwar, whither thou must make pilgrimage when thou art a man. Now, there was sitting in the garden under the jujube trees, a mendicant that had worshipped Shiv for forty years, and he lived on the offerings of the pious, and meditated holiness night and day.'
'Oh, father, was it thou?' said the child, looking up with large eyes.
'Nay, I have said it was long ago, and, moreover, this mendicant was married.'
'Did they put him on a horse with flowers on his head, and forbid him to go to sleep all night long? Thus they did to me when they made my wedding,' said the child, who had been married a few months before.
'And what didst thou do?' said I.
'I wept, and they called me evil names, and then I smote her, and we wept together.'
'Thus did not the mendicant,' said Gobind; 'for he was a holy man, and very poor. Parbati perceived him sitting naked by the temple steps where all went up and down, and she said to Shiv, "What shall men think of the Gods when the Gods thus scorn the worshippers? For forty years yonder man has prayed to us, and yet there be only a few grains of rice and some broken cowries before him after all. Men's hearts will be hardened by this thing." And Shiv said, "It shall be looked to," and so he called to the temple, which was the temple of his son, Ganesh of the elephant head, saying, "Son, there is a mendicant without who is very poor. What wilt thou do for him?" Then that great elephant-headed One awoke in the dark and answered, "In three days, if it be thy will, he shall have one lakh of rupees." Then Shiv and Parbati went away.'
'But there was a money-lender in the garden hidden among the marigolds'—the child looked at the ball of crumpled blossoms in its hands—'ay, among the yellow marigolds, and he heard the Gods talking. He was a covetous man, and of a black heart, and he desired that lakh of rupees for himself. So he went to the mendicant and said, "Oh brother, how much do the pious give thee daily?" The mendicant said, "I cannot tell. Sometimes a little rice, sometimes a little pulse, and a few cowries and, it has been, pickled mangoes, and dried fish."
'That is good,' said the child, smacking its lips. 'Then said the money-lender, "Because I have long watched thee, and learned to love thee and thy patience, I will give thee now five rupees for all thy earnings of the three days to come. There is only a bond to sign on the matter." But the mendicant said, "Thou art mad. In two months I do not receive the worth of five rupees," and he told the thing to his wife that evening. She, being a woman, said, "When did money-lender ever make a bad bargain? The wolf runs the corn for the sake of the fat deer. Our fate is in the hands of the Gods. Pledge it not even for three days."
'So the mendicant returned to the money-lender, and would not sell. Then that wicked man sat all day before him offering more and more for those, three days' earnings. First, ten, fifty, and a hundred rupees; and then, for he did not know when the Gods would pour down their gifts, rupees by the thousand, till he had offered half a lakh of rupees. Upon this sum the mendicant's wife shifted her counsel, and the mendicant signed the bond, and the money was paid in silver; great white bullocks bringing it by the cartload. But saving only all that money, the mendicant received nothing from the Gods at all, and the heart of the money-lender was uneasy on account of expectation. Therefore at noon of the third day the money-lender went into the temple to spy upon the councils of the Gods, and to learn in what manner that gift might arrive. Even as he was making his prayers, a crack between the stones of the floor gaped, and, closing, caught him by the heel. Then he heard the Gods walking in the temple in the darkness of the columns, and Shiv called to his son Ganesh, saying "Son, what hast thou done in regard to the lakh of rupees for the mendicant?" And Ganesh woke, for the moneylender heard the dry rustle of his trunk uncoiling, and he answered, "Father, one-half of the money has been paid, and the debtor for the other half I hold here fast by the heel."'
The child bubbled with laughter. 'And the moneylender paid the mendicant?' it said.
'Surely, for he whom the Gods hold by the heel must pay to the uttermost. The money was paid at evening, all silver, in great carts, and thus Ganesh did his work.'
'Nathu! Oh^e Nathu!'
A woman was calling in the dusk by the door of the courtyard.
The child began to wriggle. 'That is my mother,' it said.
'Go then, littlest,' answered Gobind; 'but stay a moment.'
He ripped a generous yard from his patchwork-quilt, put it over the child's shoulders, and the child ran away.
Once upon a time there was a coffee-planter in India who wished to clear some forest land for coffee-planting. When he had cut down all the trees and burned the under-wood the stumps still remained. Dynamite is expensive and slow-fire slow. The happy medium for stump-clearing is the lord of all beasts, who is the elephant. He will either push the stump out of the ground with his tusks, if he has any, or drag it out with ropes. The planter, therefore, hired elephants by ones and twos and threes, and fell to work. The very best of all the elephants belonged to the very worst of all the drivers or mahouts; and the superior beast's name was Moti Guj. He was the absolute property of his mahout, which would never have been the case under native rule, for Moti Guj was a creature to be desired by kings; and his name, being translated, meant the Pearl Elephant. Because the British Government was in the land, Deesa, the mahout, enjoyed his property undisturbed. He was dissipated. When he had made much money through the strength of his elephant, he would get extremely drunk and give Moti Guj a beating with a tent-peg over the tender nails of the forefeet. Moti Guj never trampled the life out of Deesa on these occasions, for he knew that after the beating was over Deesa would embrace his trunk, and weep and call him his love and his life and the liver of his soul, and give him some liquor. Moti Guj was very fond of liquor—arrack for choice, though he would drink palm-tree toddy if nothing better offered. Then Deesa would go to sleep between Moti Guj's forefeet, and as Deesa generally chose the middle of the public road, and as Moti Guj mounted guard over him and would not permit horse, foot, or cart to pass by, traffic was congested till Deesa saw fit to wake up.
There was no sleeping in the daytime on the planter's clearing; the wages were too high to risk. Deesa sat on Moti Guj's neck and gave him orders, while Moti Guj rooted up the stumps—for he owned a magnificent pair of tusks; or pulled at the end of a rope—for he had a magnificent pair of shoulders, while Deesa kicked him behind the ears and said he was the king of elephants. At evening time Moti Guj would wash down his three hundred pounds' weight of green food with a quart of arrack, and Deesa would take a share and sing songs between Moti Guj's legs till it was time to go to bed. Once a week Deesa led Moti Guj down to the river, and Moti Guj lay on his side luxuriously in the shallows, while Deesa went over him with a coir-swab and a brick. Moti Guj never mistook the pounding blow of the latter for the smack of the former that warned him to get up and turn over on the other side. Then Deesa would look at his feet, and examine his eyes, and turn up the fringes of his mighty ears in case of sores or budding ophthalmia. After inspection, the two would 'come up with a song from the sea,' Moti Guj all black and shining, waving a torn tree branch twelve feet long in his trunk, and Deesa knotting up his own long wet hair.
It was a peaceful, well-paid life till Deesa felt the return of the desire to drink deep. He wished for an orgie. The little draughts that led nowhere were taking the manhood out of him.
He went to the planter, and 'My mother's dead,' said he, weeping.
'She died on the last plantation two months ago; and she died once before that when you were working for me last year,' said the planter, who knew something of the ways of nativedom.
'Then it's my aunt, and she was just the same as a mother to me,' said Deesa, weeping more than ever. 'She has left eighteen small children entirely without bread, and it is I who must fill their little stomachs,' said Deesa, beating his head on the floor.
'Who brought you the news?' said the planter. 'The post,' said Deesa.
'There hasn't been a post here for the past week. Get back to your lines!'
'A devastating sickness has fallen on my village, and all my wives are dying,' yelled Deesa, really in tears this time. 'Call Chihun, who comes from Deesa's village,' said the planter. 'Chihun, has this man a wife?'
'He!' said Chihun. 'No. Not a woman of our village would look at him. They'd sooner marry the elephant.' Chihun snorted. Deesa wept and bellowed.
'You will get into a difficulty in a minute,' said the planter. 'Go back to your work!'
'Now I will speak Heaven's truth,' gulped Deesa, with an inspiration. 'I haven't been drunk for two months. I desire to depart in order to get properly drunk afar off and distant from this heavenly plantation. Thus I shall cause no trouble.'
A flickering smile crossed the planter's face. 'Deesa,' said he, 'you've spoken the truth, and I'd give you leave on the spot if anything could be done with Moti Guj while you're away. You know that he will only obey your orders.'
'May the Light of the Heavens live forty thousand years. I shall be absent but ten little days. After that, upon my faith and honour and soul, I return. As to the inconsiderable interval, have I the gracious permission of the Heaven-born to call up Moti Guj?'
Permission was granted, and, in answer to Deesa's shrill yell, the lordly tusker swung out of the shade of a clump of trees where he had been squirting dust over himself till his master should return.
'Light of my heart, Protector of the Drunken, Mountain of Might, give ear,' said Deesa, standing in front of him.
Moti Guj gave ear, and saluted with his trunk, 'I am going away,' said Deesa.
Moti Guj's eyes twinkled. He liked jaunts as well as his master. One could snatch all manner of nice things from the roadside then.
'But you, you fubsy old pig, must stay behind and work.'
The twinkle died out as Moti Guj tried to look delighted. He hated stump-hauling on the plantation. It hurt his teeth.
'I shall be gone for ten days, oh Delectable One. Hold up your near forefoot and I'll impress the fact upon it, warty toad of a dried mud-puddle.' Deesa took a tent-peg and banged Moti Guj ten times on the nails. Moti Guj grunted and shuffled from foot to foot.
'Ten days,' said Deesa, 'you must work and haul and root trees as Chihun here shall order you. Take up Chihun and set him on your neck!' Moti Guj curled the tip of his trunk, Chihun put his foot there and was swung on to the neck. Deesa handed Chihun the heavy ankus, the iron elephant-goad.
Chihun thumped Moti Guj's bald head as a paviour thumps a kerbstone.
Moti Guj trumpeted.
'Be still, hog of the backwoods. Chihun's your mahout for ten days. And now bid me good-bye, beast after mine own heart. Oh, my lord, my king! Jewel of all created elephants, lily of the herd, preserve your honoured health; be virtuous. Adieu!'
Moti Guj lapped his trunk round Deesa and swung him into the air twice. That was his way of bidding the man good-bye.
'He'll work now,' said Deesa to the planter. 'Have I leave to go?'
The planter nodded, and Deesa dived into the woods. Moti Guj went back to haul stumps.
Chihun was very kind to him, but he felt unhappy and forlorn notwithstanding. Chihun gave him balls of spices, and tickled him under the chin, and Chihun's little baby cooed to him after work was over, and Chihun's wife called him a darling; but Moti Guj was a bachelor by instinct, as Deesa was. He did not understand the domestic emotions. He wanted the light of his universe back again—the drink and the drunken slumber, the savage beatings and the savage caresses.
None the less he worked well, and the planter wondered. Deesa had vagabonded along the roads till he met a marriage procession of his own caste and, drinking, dancing, and tippling, had drifted past all knowledge of the lapse of time.
The morning of the eleventh day dawned, and there returned no Deesa. Moti Guj was loosed from his ropes for the daily stint. He swung clear, looked round, shrugged his shoulders, and began to walk away, as one having business elsewhere.
'Hi! ho! Come back you,' shouted Chihun. 'Come back, and put me on your neck, Misborn Mountain. Return, Splendour of the Hillsides. Adornment of all India, heave to, or I'll bang every toe off your fat forefoot!'
Moti Guj gurgled gently, but did not obey. Chihun ran after him with a rope and caught him up. Moti Guj put his ears forward, and Chihun knew what that meant, though he tried to carry it off with high words.
'None of your nonsense with me,' said he. 'To your pickets, Devil-son.'
'Hrrump!' said Moti Guj, and that was all—that and the forebent ears.
Moti Guj put his hands in his pockets, chewed a branch for a toothpick, and strolled about the clearing, making jest of the other elephants, who had just set to work.
Chihun reported the state of affairs to the planter, who came out with a dog-whip and cracked it furiously. Moti Guj paid the white man the compliment of charging him nearly a quarter of a mile across the clearing and 'Hrrumphing' him into the verandah. Then he stood outside the house chuckling to himself, and shaking all over with the fun of it, as an elephant will.
'We'll thrash him,' said the planter. 'He shall have the finest thrashing that ever elephant received. Give Kala Nag and Nazim twelve foot of chain apiece, and tell them to lay on twenty blows.'
Kala Nag—which means Black Snake—and Nazim were two of the biggest elephants in the lines, and one of their duties was to administer the graver punishments, since no man can beat an elephant properly.
They took the whipping-chains and rattled them in their trunks as they sidled up to Moti Guj, meaning to hustle him between them. Moti Guj had never, in all his life of thirty-nine years, been whipped, and he did not intend to open new experiences. So he waited, weaving his head from right to left, and measuring the precise spot in Kala Nag's fat side where a blunt tusk would sink deepest. Kala Nag had no tusks; the chain was his badge of authority; but he judged it good to swing wide of Moti Guj at the last minute, and seem to appear as if he had brought out the chain for amusement. Nazim turned round and went home early. He did not feel fighting-fit that morning, and so Moti Guj was left standing alone with his ears cocked.
That decided the planter to argue no more, and Moti Guj rolled back to his inspection of the clearing. An elephant who will not work, and is not tied up, is not quite so manageable as an eighty-one ton gun loose in a heavy sea-way. He slapped old friends on the back and asked them if the stumps were coming away easily; he talked nonsense concerning labour and the inalienable rights of elephants to a long 'nooning'; and wandering to and fro, thoroughly demoralised the garden until sundown, when he returned to his pickets for food.
'If you won't work you shan't eat,' said Chihun angrily. 'You're a wild elephant, and no educated animal at all. Go back to your jungle.'
Chihun's little brown baby, rolling on the floor of the hut, stretched its fat arms to the huge shadow in the doorway. Moti Guj knew well that it was the dearest thing on earth to Chihun. He swung out his trunk with a fascinating crook at the end, and the brown baby threw itself shouting upon it. Moti Guj made fast and pulled up till the brown baby was crowing in the air twelve feet above his father's head.
'Great Chief!' said Chihun. 'Flour cakes of the best, twelve in number, two feet across, and soaked in rum shall be yours on the instant, and two hundred pounds' weight of fresh-cut young sugar-cane therewith. Deign only to put down safely that insignificant brat who is my heart and my life to me.'
Moti Guj tucked the brown baby comfortably between his forefeet, that could have knocked into toothpicks all Chihun's hut, and waited for his food. He ate it, and the brown baby crawled away. Moti Guj dozed, and thought of Deesa. One of many mysteries connected with the elephant is that his huge body needs less sleep than anything else that lives. Four or five hours in the night suffice—two just before midnight, lying down on one side; two just after one o'clock, lying down on the other. The rest of the silent hours are filled with eating and fidgeting and long grumbling soliloquies.
At midnight, therefore, Moti Guj strode out of his pickets, for a thought had come to him that Deesa might be lying drunk somewhere in the dark forest with none to look after him. So all that night he chased through the undergrowth, blowing and trumpeting and shaking his ears. He went down to the river and blared across the shallows where Deesa used to wash him, but there was no answer. He could not find Deesa, but he disturbed all the elephants in the lines, and nearly frightened to death some gipsies in the woods.
At dawn Deesa returned to the plantation. He had been very drunk indeed, and he expected to fall into trouble for outstaying his leave. He drew a long breath when he saw that the bungalow and the plantation were still uninjured; for he knew something of Moti Guj's temper; and reported himself with many lies and salaams. Moti Guj had gone to his pickets for breakfast. His night exercise had made him hungry.
'Call up your beast,' said the planter, and Deesa shouted in the mysterious elephant-language, that some mahouts believe came from China at the birth of the world, when elephants and not men were masters. Moti Guj heard and came. Elephants do not gallop. They move from spots at varying rates of speed. If an elephant wished to catch an express train he could not gallop, but he could catch the train. Thus Moti Guj was at the planter's door almost before Chihun noticed that he had left his pickets. He fell into Deesa's arms trumpeting with joy, and the man and beast wept and slobbered over each other, and handled each other from head to heel to see that no harm had befallen.
'Now we will get to work,' said Deesa. 'Lift me up, my son and my joy.'
Moti Guj swung him up and the two went to the coffee-clearing to look for irksome stumps.
The planter was too astonished to be very angry.
_We've drunk to the Queen—God bless her!— We've drunk, to our mothers' land; We've drunk to our English brother (But he does not understand); We've drunk to the wide creation, And the Cross swings low for the morn; Last toast, and of obligation, A health to the Native-born!
They change their skies above them, But not their hearts that roam! We learned from our wistful mothers To call old England 'home'; We read of the English skylark, Of the spring in the English lanes, But we screamed with the painted lories As we rode on the dusty plains!
They passed with their old-world legends— Their tales of wrong and dearth— Our fathers held by purchase, But we by the right of birth; Our heart's where they rocked our cradle, Our love where we spent our toil, And our faith and our hope and our honour We pledge, to our native soil!
I charge you charge your glasses— I charge you drink with me To the men of the Four New Nations, And the Islands of the Sea— To the last least lump of coral That none may stand outside, And our own good pride shall teach us To praise our comrade's pride!_
To the hush of the breathless morning Oh the thin, tin, crackling roofs, To the haze of the burned back-ranges And the dust of the shoeless hoofs— To the risk of a death by drowning, To the risk of a death by drouth— To the men of a million acres, To the Sons of the Golden South!
To the Sons of the Golden South (Stand up!), And the life we live and know, Let a fellow sing o' the little things he cares about, If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about With the weight of a single blow!
To the smoke of a hundred coasters, To the sheep on a thousand hills, To the sun that never blisters, To the rain that never chills— To the land of the waiting spring-time, To our five-meal, meat-fed men, To the tall, deep-bosomed women, And the children nine and ten!
And the children nine and ten (Stand up!), And the life we live and know, Let a fellow sing o' the little things he cares about, If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about With the weight of a two-fold blow!
To the far-flung fenceless prairie Where the quick cloud-shadows trail, To our neighbour's barn in the offing And the line of the new-cut rail; To the plough in her league-long furrow With the gray Lake gulls behind— To the weight of a half-year's winter And the warm wet western wind!
To the home of the floods and thunder, To her pale dry healing blue— To the lift of the great Cape combers, And the smell of the baked Karroo. To the growl of the sluicing stamp-head— To the reef and the water-gold, To the last and the largest Empire, To the map that is half unrolled!
To our dear dark foster-mothers, To the heathen songs they sung— To the heathen speech we babbled Ere we came to the white man's tongue. To the cool of our deep verandas— To the blaze of our jewelled main, To the night, to the palms in the moonlight, And the fire-fly in the cane!
To the hearth of our people's people— To her well-ploughed windy sea, To the hush of our dread high-altar Where The Abbey makes us We; To the grist of the slow-ground ages, To the gain that is yours and mine— To the Bank of the Open Credit, To the Power-house of the Line!
We've drunk to the Queen—God bless her!— We've drunk to our mothers' land; We've drunk to our English brother (And we hope he'll understand). We've drunk as much as we're able, And the Cross swings low for the morn; Last toast—and your foot on the table!— A health to the Native-born!
A health to the Native-torn (Stand up!), We're six white men mow, All bound to sing o' the little things we care about, All bound to fight for the little things we care about With the weight of a six-fold blow! By the might of our cable-tow (Take hands!), From the Orkneys to the Horn, All round the world (and a little loop to pull it by), All round the world (and a little strap to buckle it), A health to the Native-born!
To our private taste, there is always something a little exotic, almost artificial, in songs which, under an English aspect and dress, are yet so manifestly the product of other skies. They affect us like translations; the very fauna and flora are alien, remote; the dog's-tooth violet is but an ill substitute for the rathe primrose, nor can we ever believe that the wood-robin sings as sweetly in April as the English thrush.—THE ATHENAEUM.
Buy my English posies! Kent and Surrey may— Violets of the Undercliff Wet with Channel spray; Cowslips from a Devon combe— Midland furze afire— Buy my English posies And I'll sell your heart's desire!
Buy my English posies! You that scorn the May, Won't you greet a friend from home Half the world away? Green against the draggled drift, Faint and frail and first— Buy my Northern blood-root And I'll know where you were nursed: Robin down the logging-road whistles, Come to me!' Spring has found the maple-grove, the sap is running free; All the winds of Canada call the ploughing-rain. Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
Buy my English posies! Here's to match your need— Buy a tuft of royal heath, Buy a bunch of weed White as sand of Muysenberg Spun before the gale— Buy my heath and lilies And I'll tell you whence you hail! Under hot Constantia broad the vineyards lie— Throned and thorned the aching berg props the speckless sky— Slow below the Wynberg firs trails the tilted wain— Take the flower arid turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
Buy my English posies! You that will not turn— Buy my hot-wood clematis. Buy a frond o' fern Gathered where the Erskine leaps Down the road to Lorne— Buy my Christmas creeper And I'll say where you were born! West away from Melbourne dust holidays begin— They that mock at Paradise woo at Cora Lynn— Through the great South Otway gums sings the great South Main— Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
Buy my English posies! Here's your choice unsold! Buy a blood-red myrtle-bloom, Buy the kowhai's gold Flung for gift on Taupo's face, Sign that spring is come— Buy my clinging myrtle And I'll give you back your home! Broom behind the windy town; pollen o' the pine— Bell-bird in the leafy deep where the ratas twine— Fern above the saddle-bow, flax upon the plain— Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
Buy my English posies! Ye that have your own, Buy them for a brother's sake Overseas, alone. Weed ye trample underfoot Floods his heart abrim— Bird ye never heeded, Oh, she calls his dead to him! Far and far our homes are set round the Seven Seas; Woe for us if we forget, we that hold by these! Unto each his mother-beach, bloom and bird and land— Masters of the Seven Seas, oh, love and understand.
"Why is my District death-rate low?" Said Binks of Hezabad. "Wells, drains, and sewage-outfalls are My own peculiar fad. I learnt a lesson once. It ran Thus," quoth that most veracious man:—
It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad, I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad; When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all, A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.
I couldn't see the driver, and across my mind it rushed That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth. I didn't care to meet him, and I couldn't well get down, So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.
The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain, Till the Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain; And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals, And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.
He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear, To the Main Drain sewage outfall while he snorted in my ear— Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair, Felt the brute's proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair,
Heard it trumpet on my shoulder—tried to crawl a little higher— Found the Main Drain sewage-outfall blocked some eight feet up, with mire; And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze, While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!
It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey Before they called the drivers up arid dragged the brute away. Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain. They flushed that four-foot drain-head and—it never choked again.
You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure, Till you've been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer. I believe in well-flushed culverts ... This is why the death-rate's small; And, if you don't believe me, get shikarred yourself. That's all.
THE COASTWISE LIGHTS
Our brows are bound with spindrift and the weed is on our knees; Our loins are battered 'neath us by the swinging, smoking seas. From reef and rock and skerry—over headland, ness, and voe— The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!
Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors; Through the yelling Channel tempest when the siren hoots and roars— By day the dipping house-flag and by night the rocket's trail— As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.
We bridge across the dark, and bid the helmsman have a care, The flash that wheeling inland wakes his sleeping wife to prayer; From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains The lover from the sea-rim drawn—his love in English lanes.
We greet the clippers wing-and-wing that race the Southern wool; We warn the crawling cargo tanks of Bremen, Leith, and Hull; To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea— The white wall-sided war-ships or the whalers of Dundee!
Come up, come in from Eastward, from the guard-ports of the Morn! Beat up, beat in from Southerly, O gipsies of the Horn! Swift shuttles of an Empire's loom that weave us, main to main, The Coastwise Lights of England give you welcome back again!
Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates; Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights! Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek, The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak.
THE ENGLISH FLAG
Above the portico a flag-staff, bearing the Union Jack, remained fluttering in the flames for some time, but ultimately when it fell the crowds rent the air with shouts, and seemed to see significance in the incident.—DAILY PAPERS.
Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro— And what should they know of England who only England know?— The poor little street-bred people that vapour and fume and brag, They are lifting their heads in the stillness to yelp at the English Flag!
Must we borrow a clout from the Boer—to plaster anew with dirt? An Irish liar's bandage, or an English coward's shirt? We may not speak of England; her Flag's to sell or share. What is the Flag of England? Winds of the World, declare!
The North Wind blew:—'From Bergen my steel-shod vanguards go; I chase your lazy whalers home from the Disko floe; By the great North Lights above me I work the will of God, And the liner splits on the ice-field or the Dogger fills with cod.
'I barred my gates with iron, I shuttered my doors with flame, Because to force my ramparts your nutshell navies came; I took the sun from their presence, I cut them down with my blast, And they died, but the Flag of England blew free ere the spirit passed.
'The lean white bear hath seen it in the long, long Arctic night, The musk-ox knows the standard that flouts the Northern Light: What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my bergs to dare, Ye have but my drifts to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!'
The South Wind sighed:—'From the Virgins my mid-sea course was ta'en Over a thousand islands lost in an idle main, Where the sea-egg flames on the coral and the long-backed breakers croon Their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon.
'Strayed amid lonely islets, mazed amid outer keys, I waked the palms to laughter—I tossed the scud in the breeze— Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone, But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.
'I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn; I have chased it north to the Lizard—ribboned and rolled and torn; I have spread its fold o'er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea; I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free.
'My basking sunfish know it, and wheeling albatross, Where the lone wave fills with fire beneath the Southern Cross. What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my reefs to dare, Ye have but my seas to furrow. Go forth, for it is there!
The East Wind roared:—'From the Kuriles, the Bitter Seas, I come, And me men call the Home-Wind, for I bring the English home. Look—look well to your shipping! By the breath of my mad typhoon I swept your close-packed Praya and beached your best at Kowloon!
'The reeling junks behind me and the racing seas before, I raped your richest roadstead—I plundered Singapore! I set my hand on the Hoogli; as a hooded snake she rose, And I flung your stoutest steamers to roost with the startled crows.
'Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake, But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England's sake— Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid— Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.
'The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows, The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows. What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my sun to dare, Ye have but my sands to travel. Go forth, for it is there!'
The West Wind called:—'In squadrons the thoughtless galleons fly That bear the wheat and cattle lest street-bred people die. They make my might their porter, they make my house their path, Till I loose my neck from their rudder and whelm them all in my wrath.
'I draw the gliding fog-bank as a snake is drawn from the hole, They bellow one to the other, the frighted ship-bells toll, For day is a drifting terror till I raise the shroud with my breath, And they see strange bows above them and the two go locked to death.
'But whether in calm or wrack-wreath, whether by dark or day, I heave them whole to the conger or rip their plates away, First of the scattered legions, under a shrieking sky, Dipping between the rollers, the English Flag goes by.
'The dead dumb fog hath wrapped it—the frozen dews have kissed— The naked stars have seen it, the fellow-star in the mist. What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my breath to dare, Ye have but my waves to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!'
Truly ye come of The Blood; slower to bless than to ban; Little used to lie down at the bidding of any man. Flesh of the flesh that I bred, bone of the bone that I bare; Stark as your sons shall be—stern as your fathers were. Deeper than speech our love, stronger than life our tether, But we do not fall on the neck nor kiss when we come together. My arm is nothing weak, my strength is not gone by; Sons, I have borne many sons, but my breasts are not dry, Look, I have made ye a place and opened wide the doors, That ye may talk together, your Barons and Councillors— Wards of the Outer March, Lords of the Lower Seas, Ay, talk to your gray mother that bore you on her knees!— That ye may talk together, brother to brother's face— Thus for the good of your peoples—thus for the Pride of the Race. Also, we will make promise. So long as The Blood endures, I shall know that your good is mine: ye shall feel that my strength is yours: In the day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all, That Our House stand together and the pillars do not fall. Draw now the threefold knot firm on the ninefold bands, And the Law that ye make shall be law after the rule of your lands. This for the waxen Heath, and that for the Wattle-bloom, This for the Maple-leaf, and that for the southern Broom. The Law that ye make shall be law and I do not press my will, Because ye are Sons of The Blood and call me Mother still. Now must ye speak to your kinsmen and they must speak to you, After the use of the English, in straight-flung words and few. Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways, Balking the end half-won for an instant dole of praise. Stand to your work and be wise—certain of sword and pen, Who are neither children nor Gods, but men in a world of men!
THE OVERLAND MAIL
[FOOT-SERVICE TO THE HILLS]
In the name of the Empress of India, make way, O Lords of the Jungle, wherever you roam, The woods are astir at the close of the day —We exiles are waiting for letters from Home. Let the robber retreat—let the tiger turn tail— In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!
With a jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in, He turns to the foot-path that heads up the hill— The bags on his back and a cloth round his chin, And, tucked in his waistbelt, the Post Office bill;— 'Despatched on this date, as received by the rail, 'Per runner, two bags of the Overland Mail.'
Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim. Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff. Does the tempest cry 'halt'? What are tempests to him? The service admits not a 'but' or an 'if.' While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
From aloe to rose-oak, from rose-oak to fir, From level to upland, from upland to crest, From rice-field to rock-ridge, from rock-ridge to spur, Fly the soft-sandalled feet, strains the brawny brown chest. From rail to ravine—to the peak from the vale— Up, up through the night goes the Overland Mail.
There's a speck on the hill-side, a dot on the road— A jingle of bells on the foot-path below— There's a scuffle above in the monkey's abode— The world is awake and the clouds are aglow. For the great Sun himself must attend to the hail: —'In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!'
IN SPRING TIME
My garden blazes brightly with the rose-bush and the peach, And the koeil sings above it, in the siris by the well, From the creeper-covered trellis comes the squirrel's chattering speech, And the blue jay screams and flutters where the cheery satbhai dwell. But the rose has lost its fragrance, and the koeil's note is strange; I am sick of endless sunshine, sick of blossom-burdened bough. Give me back the leafless woodlands where the winds of Springtime range— Give me back one day in England, for it's Spring in England now! Through the pines the gusts are booming, o'er the brown fields blowing chill, From the furrow of the plough-share streams the fragrance of the loam, And the hawk nests on the cliffside and the jackdaw in the hill, And my heart is back in England 'mid the sights and sounds of Home. But the garland of the sacrifice this wealth of rose and peach is, Ah! koeil, little koeil, singing on the siris bough, In my ears the knell of exile your ceaseless bell-like speech is— Can you tell me aught of England or of Spring in England now?
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. LTD. THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, GLASGOW.